Lions start season with win at King's Head

Monday 11 October, 2010

Our 1st team started its season in Division 1 of the Middlesex League with a nail-biting 5-3 win against rivals King’s Head! Our club’s new strength-in-depth eventually told, with several wins on the lower boards.

Kings Head 1 Kings Head 1 Hendon 1 Hendon 1
Spivack, Simon SY
218 1 - 0
Moskovic, David M
McMichael, Richard J
208 ½ - ½
Eden, Tomer
Wittmann, Jochen
194 1 - 0
Senior, Gary
Thomas, Rik H
189 0 - 1
Peiris, T Gayan M
Coles, Steven F
183 ½ - ½
Raoof, Adam N
Guthrie, D B
- 0 - 1
Veit, Darlan Rodrigo
Falzarano, Jim
169 0 - 1
Ellis, Daniel
Gilfillan, Andrew
166 0 - 1
Dragomir, Ionica
3 - 5

Match report by Dan ‘first to finish’ Ellis

The Hendon Lions began the defence of their crown in Middlesex League Division 1 with an exciting victory over Kings Head 1. A friendly rivalry has developed between the two teams in the last couple of seasons but on this occasion the home side Kings Head were unable to field a full strength team and Hendon managed to take full advantage, especially on the lower boards where the match was won with victories for Hendon on boards 6, 7 and 8.

On board 1, David Moskovic with Black reached a symmetrical type position with a Kings Indian set-up with both colours doubling their rooks on the open c-file. To quote our illustrious captain, Mikey B, Moskovic was ‘going for gold’ with the surprising blow Bh6! when white – faced with the loss of the exchange – decided to give up his queen for a rook and a minor piece. This led to interesting play with Black’s queen relentlessly probing for weaknesses and white trying to fend off the attentions of the imposing monarch. Just when it seemed Moskovic had broken through, a passed pawn impudently strode through the black lines and the game was lost.

On Board 2, Tomer Eden played in typical fashion – his double fianchetto with white was quietly effective, staking a claim on some important central squares. White wanted to use the e5 square and after the striking move Ba1, making way for the knight, black was on the defensive but also ready to counter on the a-file having already doubled his rooks there. A draw was soon agreed.

The ‘game of the match’ award has to go to Gary Senior on board 3. This was a full-bodied battle royale with castling on opposite sides. Gary eventually lost the game despite defending very stoutly. After the opening, an interesting position was reached with a phalanx of four kingside white pawns on the fourth rank clashing with Gary’s four black pawns on the sixth. Wittmann succeeded in opening some kingside files and the spectators feared it was all over for Gary after he seemed to miss white’s riposte to his attempt to push back the white pieces – Rxh5! The rook was immune to capture by the knight on f4 due to Qh6+ followed by quick mate. Despite this setback, Gary defended very well, finding a useful resource in the move e5! Having managed to survive to the endgame, it looked as if the worst was over for Gary when queens were exchanged but again it was a passed white e-pawn that proved the deciding factor and Gary – in time trouble – couldn’t hold on. A tense and brilliant game to watch with some brave sacrifices and tactical nuances from both sides.

On board 4, Gayan Peiris looked comfortable with white and ground out a good win. I suspect black may have missed his best chance when he played Qc8 offering a queen exchange instead of Rc8 that seemed more natural and possibly stronger. Gayan played the quiet Qf2, refusing the exchange and keeping control. He later won with a game with a pretty checkmate configuration on the kingside.

Board 5 saw Adam Raoof and Steven Coles agree a (fairly) quick draw after the game gained a closed character in a Winawer type French position. Rather than a face a long manoeuvring struggle with an unclear outcome both players were content to agree a draw.

Board 6 could have been an exemplary display of how to conduct a Ruy Lopez with white after an early exchange on c6. It was all going swimmingly with Darlan Veit trying to exploit the weakness of the isolated black pawn on e5, but white suddenly seemed to make life harder for himself when he won a pawn but allowed black to make a strong passed a-pawn. As soon as that pawn was disposed of, white converted the win impressively although no doubt was helped by his opponent’s considerable time disadvantage. He seemed to spend an age deciding on whether to take back on f6 with rook or the pawn – to my mind eventually making the wrong choice.

I had a genuinely lucky win on board 7. Despite making only what I thought were sensible developing moves with black, I still had some problems with an uncastled king that allowed white to put pressure on c6 with an annoying pin. Having mistakenly decided against Bxe5 and playing the ‘safer’ 0-0, black duly lost his pawn but suddenly won the game after white got himself in a tangle and found that there was no escape for his bishop on c6. There was a safe way for white to take and keep the pawn but in those lines black may possibly have some compensation if he is able to use the b and c files and his slightly more active pieces.

An amusing game was played out on board 8. Ionica‘s ‘greek gift’ Bxh7+ was sensibly refused by his opponent with Kh8 and black seemed to more or less obliged to go in for exchanges on f2 to relieve the white pressure, but this left him with rook and pawn versus two minor pieces. Ionica’s technique was more than up to the task and he converted the win smoothly.

A hard-fought match, a winning start to the season and a great way for Mikey B to start his new captaincy of the Hendon 1st team. The Lions are looking strong this season with a number of exciting new prospects attracted to the club by recent successes.